So you might have heard about the recent shock felt throughout the Harry Potter fandom: Hermione should have ended up with Harry.
I am not going to debate or address the most common reactions which center around pairings and romance. Instead, I am more concerned about the deeply upset–even betrayed–reaction so many people have had to this news, as if they are saying books books belong %150 to their readers. Once a writer hands off a part of their soul in the written form, a miniscule horcurx – sans the killing part – if you will, this story belongs to every person who lays eyes upon it. But it no longer belongs to the writer, they seem to be saying.
However, I wonder: At what point can writers become readers of their own works? Why shouldn’t this be allowed? I know for a fact that writers, after distance and time have become great, will start to analyze their own writing. As readers. The person I am now will certainly not be exactly the same ten years from now. I read short stories I wrote four years ago and wish I could change them: fix that, put this word there, make her say this instead of that. As humans, especially as writers, we have the constant desire to improve upon what has been. Writers are destined to become readers, critics, and analyzers of their own work. I think one particular part of what Rowling said is noteworthy:
“‘I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment,’” she says. ‘That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.’”
Rowling wanted to cling to her original idea and felt an emotional attachment to this vision. It was “personal.” She choose to go with her heart rather than with her literary mind. Is this wrong? Does every single decision we make as writers have to be fully endorsed by literature? Can’t it be simply something we feel is right and we will try our hardest to make it so. As a reader of her novels, I think she was right to listen to her heart. Over-thinking, many times, is the mortal enemy of writing. And as a reader, she cannot help herself, and feels the need to address this gap she senses. The only difference is that she is JK Rowling.
I think Rowling is criticizing herself as a writer. I am sure she is not trying to melt our minds or change our thoughts about the world she has created. She is simply sharing how her ideas about her own writing have altered, and I think it is great. It is a lesson – for her, for all of us – in how to let go as a writer, and become a reader just like the rest of us. The only way to do so is by taking the time to understand the existence of this “thing” that does not leave you mind – to take it apart and realize what small decisions led to the biggest one of all. Dissection is not pretty, and sometimes difficult to watch, but necessary. I think she is doing exactly this, but in public dissection theater.
Also, in the minimal quotations that have surfaced, I have yet to see this word from her – regret. I see “should have.” You can argue these are synonyms but regret feels more final, more heavy. You use the word “regret” for decisions that cause a momentous shift in your life. You use “should have” for more minor circumstances. “I should have changed the oil in my car.” “I regret not going to my grandmother’s funeral.” These two events are vastly different. [The full interview can be read here, via Mugglenet.]
Rowling’s revelations don’t change my experience of Harry Potter one bit. They amplify it immensely. I can now re-read the novels and see glimpses of what could have been between Hermione and Harry. I can ruminate on the other bombshell Rowling shared with us not too long along – that she considered killing Ron – and see how that would have affected the potential romance between Hermione and Harry. It even makes me understand more fully why Hermione and Ron’s lead-up to courtship was the longest romantic slow burn I have ever encountered – there was a constant subconscious conflict between Rowling’s personal and literary preferences. I mean, not even Leslie and Ben would have slow burned it that long. (See: Parks and Recreation.)
I now see the series in a new analytical, philosophical light. The books belong to me more, now, than ever before. My reaction to this revelation is not very different than most, but my take on it is, and because of this, I am closer to the over 3,000 pages of this series. My interaction with Harry Potter has become even more personal because she went with a personal choice and is now flashing a literary light in its hazel-splashed-with-green eyes. She has become a reader of Harry Potter. Just like the rest of us.